Category Archives: Executed

Wrongly Convicted people who were executed.

See also https://geebee2.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/innocents-executed-in-the-united-states/

Richard Allen Masterson

Richard Masterton was wrongly convicted of the 2001 murder of Darin Honeycutt.

Richard met Honeycutt at a Houston, Texas, bar. The two men went back to Honeycutt’s apartment. Richard is accused of strangling Honeycutt in order to rob him. Richard testified they were having sex, and he did not intend Honeycutt’s death.

The medical examiner was a fraud, and the cause of death was a heart attack and not strangulation. Richard also gave a coerced false confession, and also became severely depressed and suicidal while in jail, which contributed to his wrongful conviction.

Because Richard’s lawyers failed him, the court system will not provide relief to him. His last chance to avoid execution on January 20, 2016 is executive clemency.

Clemency Petition January 5, 2016

Featured case #118Proposal Post | Website | Facebook Page | Petition at Change.org

Richard’s appeals were all denied, he was executed on January 20, 2016.

 

 

David Wayne Spence

Nevertheless, a problem remains. Mr. Spence was almost certainly innocent.

This is not a hypothesis conveniently floated by death-penalty opponents. Those who believe that David Spence did not commit the crime for which he died include the lieutenant, now retired, who supervised the police investigation of the murders; the detective who actually conducted the investigation, and a conservative Texas businessman who, almost against his will, looked into the case and became convinced that Mr. Spence was being railroaded.

The retired lieutenant, Marvin Horton, said in sworn testimony: ”I do not think David Spence committed this crime.”

In an interview Wednesday, Ramon Salinas, the homicide detective who investigated the murders, said: ”My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved.”

The businessman, Brian Pardo, was asked for help by Mr. Spence last fall. ”The probability of him being innocent seemed very small in my mind at that time,” Mr. Pardo said. ”He was on death row. It just seemed to me that most people there are guilty, and they all say they are innocent.”

Mr. Pardo agreed to underwrite an investigation that would last only until some evidence turned up showing that Mr. Spence was guilty. No evidence ever did.

”It was all entirely to the contrary,” Mr. Pardo said. ”There is no chance that he committed those murders.”

The murders were horrifyingly violent and bloody. There was a great deal of contact between the victims and the killers. But there was no physical evidence connecting the crime to Mr. Spence or his co-defendants, both of whom are incarcerated for life.

Strands of hair, including pubic hairs, that most likely came from the killers were found on the victims. But an F.B.I. analysis determined that none of the hairs came from Mr. Spence or his co-defendants.

The case against Mr. Spence was pursued not by homicide detectives but by a narcotics cop named Truman Simons who left the Police Department under unusual circumstances, went to work for the county sheriff and in that capacity conducted an obsessive, unprofessional and widely criticized campaign to nail Mr. Spence. (There will be more about this in future columns.)

Mr. Simons cobbled his case together from the fabricated and often preposterous testimony of inmates who were granted all manner of favors in return. Court papers showed that some were even given the opportunity to have sex with wives or girlfriends in the district attorney’s office.

From http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/25/opinion/the-wrong-man.html

Wikipedia : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Lake_Waco_murders

Texas Moratorium Network Report

October 2015 Summary Texas Monthly via Wrongful Conviction Blog : ( “Bite Mark Analysis” )

The third case is even more troubling because it involved an execution. The defendant’s name was David Spence, and he was, oddly enough, Juanita White’s son. (For more on this labyrinthian case read “The Murders at the Lake.”) Spence was convicted in two trials, in 1984 and 1985, of the murders of three Waco teens and given the death penalty. The only physical evidence against him: bite marks on the bodies of two of the victims. The expert who testified: Homer Campbell. Spence, Campbell said, was “the only individual” to a “reasonable medical and dental certainty” who could have bitten the women. According to jurors, Campbell’s words were powerful. “We had life-size pictures of the marks and a cast of [Spence’s] teeth brought into the jury room,” remembered one juror afterward. “The testimony—‘everyone’s bite mark is different, like a fingerprint’—was very convincing.”

Spence’s appellate lawyers tried to attack Campbell’s methods with other forensic odontologists. One, Thomas Krauss, a former president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO), said Campbell’s methodology was “well outside the mainstream.” Krauss helped the lawyers set up a blind panel of five odontologists to analyze the autopsy photos and vet Campbell’s work by comparing the marks with dental molds from Spence and four other subjects. The results were astonishing. Though the five experts identified several patterns that were possibly bite marks, they couldn’t say much more. One of them said the photos were too poor in quality to compare to the molds. A second wrote that the marks were “more likely than not made by insects or artifacts.” A third thought that some of the marks were probably bite marks, but he couldn’t match any of the molds to them. Two of the experts did indeed match one of the marks to one of the molds, but it was not Spence’s. It belonged to a housewife from Phillipsburg, Kansas. Unfortunately for Spence, the study wasn’t completed until after the deadline for Spence’s writ. He was eventually executed, despite numerous questions about his guilt—the biggest coming from the fact that the only physical evidence against him came from Campbell.

Burton Abbott

WIkipedia Article | Book by Keith Walker : A Trail of Corn

There is a whole chapter on the case in “It’s Me, Edward Wayne Edwards, the Serial Killer You Never Heard of“, Chapter 25, starting page 223.

The claim:

July 16, 1955, a post card was sent to Berkeley Police, in Edwards’ handwriting. The day after, Edwards contacted the San Francisco Examiner, and lead them to the body, planted across from Abbot’s cabin. He planted the body the day after police had searched. Further letters were sent.

Also in the book, page 238, is a letter dated April 24, 1995, from George T. Davis, Abbott’s lawyer, to Keith Walker who wrote a book about the case. Davis says he is convinced that Abbott did not commit the crime, and the book is accurate.

Book description ( via Amazon ):

How could a man be guilty of kidnaping and killing a 14-yr.-old school girl while on a fishing trip miles away when she disappeared? The district attorney claimed the suspect was a vicious sex killer who stalked the victim – and kept her possessions as a fetish. But Burton Abbott said he was 175 miles away when young, pretty Stephanie Bryan was last seen near her Berkeley, CA, home. And he had witnesses to prove it. Keith Walker’s compelling story asks: Did Abbott leave a “trail of corn”, showing evidence of his implication, as the district attorney claimed, or did someone else leave the “trail of corn”, perhaps purposely? A phone call with only two minutes to spare, a mother’s anguished cries, soil on boots nine inches down in the grave, human fingers protruding from under a trunk lid – these are some of the strange ingredients that went into this fascinating story. Burton Abbott was a tubercular ex-GI student at the University of California in Berkeley, CA, when Stephanie disappeared on her way home from school on April 28, 1955. Investigation showed Abbott made a trip to the family cabin on the day the girl disappeared. Later, Stephanie’s remains were found in a grisly grave 339 feet up a steep hillside above the cabin. But Abbott flatly denied any implication in the girl’s death. He said he was the victim of cruel hoax, a ruthless district attorney who based his case on suppositions and innuendoes, and a biased judge. The case was a controversial one, with almost everyone divided on whether he committed the crime. There was only circumstantial evidence to implicate him. Puzzling twists of the story produced blazing headlines month after month in California newspapers. Keith Walker, a newspaperman at the time, spent 35 years researching and writing this book. He has produced a powerful story of intrigue, suspense, drama, grief, conflict and human emotions. He has used his reporter’s skills to bring you the full scope of this bizarre, compelling story.

Cameron Todd Willingham

One of the clearest examples of an innocent man who was executed, there is clear evidence that the prosecution concealed exculpatory evidence.

It’s official, the State of Texas executed an innocent man – an innocent father – after prosecutors deliberately concealed evidence in his children’s arson deaths. Now the state bar of Texas has filed a formal misconduct accusation against the prosecutor in this case.

The bar had already filed a petition in Navarro County, near Dallas, earlier this month that alleged that prosecutor John Jackson deliberately withheld evidence which indicated that Cameron Todd Willingham was innocent. Because of this, Willingham was executed in 2004 for supposedly murdering his three young daughters. His daughters died in a house fire back in 1991, but the evidence Jackson suppressed showed that Willingham had nothing to do with the fire that took his daughters from him.

from Texas Executed An Innocent Father After Prosecutor Hid Evidence In Kids’ Arson Deaths March 19, 2015.

See also Fresh doubts over a Texas execution Washington Post, August 3, 2014

Lester Bower

Lester Bower was convicted of a a quadruple murder after lying to his wife and authorities, about his efforts to buy an ultralight plane, when four people were found shot to death in an airplane hangar on the B&B Ranch north of Dallas

For more than 30 years, Mr. Bower has steadfastly maintained his innocence and has accumulated both withheld and newly discovered evidence of his innocence.

Bower was a Texas A&M University graduate, with a good job, family man, father of two daughters, soccer dad, stable marriage, no mental disabilities, no history of childhood abuse, no previous criminal record.

The State continually argued throughout trial that the victims were killed using a rare form of subsonic ammunition that only a handful of people had access to. Mr. Bower previously had purchased some such ammunition. Yet, there was no way to conclude that subsonic ammunition was in fact used in the murders;the prosecution knew as much but relied on it as fact just the same. Documents the prosecution withheld before trial also show that this ammunition was much more widely available than the prosecution led the jury to believe.

The State further contended that Mr. Bower owned the same type of pistol that was used in the killings. Mr. Bower, however, lost this pistol long before the murders, and the State’s own firearms examiner found that Mr. Bower’s gun had a different firing pin than the one used in the killings—a finding that the prosecution decided to ignore.

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News:
March 23, 2015: Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of Texas inmate who has been on death row for 30 years

March 25, 2015: Execution set for June 3, 2015

May 22, 2015: U.S. court denies motion to halt execution of long-serving Texas inmate

According to Bower’s court filings, he has faced imminent execution on six occasions during his time in prison.

Execution set for June 3, 2015

Guardian Article May 29, 2015

Article June 2015 The Intercept “Doubts Still Plague the 31-year-old Lester Bower Case but Texas Is About To Kill Him Anyway.”

June 3 2015 “Lester Bower Executed In Texas Despite Serious Doubts Over His Guilt”

George Stinney Exonerated

A 14-year-old South Carolina boy who was quickly convicted of murder and then executed in 1944 has been posthumously exonerated.

Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen vacated George Stinney, Jr.’s conviction on Wednesday, stating that the boy’s prosecution was marked by “fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process.”

Frances Newton should be next.

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